Michael Conforto (SF): 4-4, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB.
All regrets in life and in fantasy baseball come about as the result of two general mistakes: making a decision too early and making a decision too late. Maybe that observation is a bit trite, but personally, it brings me some small comfort to know that these are really the only two ways that you can mess things up. Now, whenever I’m faced with a tough choice, I simply ask myself which mistake would be harder to live with in that given situation: waiting too long, or not waiting long enough? And whatever answer I come up with helps guide my decision.
Now typically, when it comes to fantasy baseball, it’s the fear of making a decision too late that compels me. Oftentimes, this manifests itself in the form of picking players up and dropping them after two games if they don’t immediately perform. Or stashing prospects months ahead of time to ensure I don’t eventually get outbid when they get called up. Or constantly cycling through the latest Flavors of the Week on the waiver wire before anybody else can, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
And honestly, I don’t think I’m alone in my tendency to jump the gun. Nobody wants to look up three months into the season and realize they waited too long to unload a player who is hitting .200 and showing zero signs of life. Which might explain why Michael Conforto was one of the most-dropped players when the calendar flipped to May this year. He was hitting .205 at the time with a 33% strikeout rate, and while the four home runs weren’t devoid of value, the poor production and the fact that he was returning from yet another major shoulder injury made people extremely eager to cut bait.
Those who erred on the side of patience with Conforto have been rewarded though. His 4-4, HR, R, RBI, BB, SB performance last night pulled his slash line over the past two weeks up to .364/.419/.782, and he has now homered seven times over that span. What’s more, his strikeout rate has dropped to just 21% in May, giving further credence to the idea that he’s starting to see the ball a lot better after his slow start.
Armed with a strong track record of above-average plate discipline, one of the highest Hard Hit rates of his career (47%), and a newfound propensity for avoiding the strikeout, there’s a chance Conforto could continue to shake off the rust and put together one of his stronger overall seasons this year—much to the dismay of those who cut him from their roster to chase the fleeting production of Trey Mancini or Pavin Smith. Sometimes in life, the FOMO is the reason you MO.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Pete Alonso (NYM): 2-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB.
Alonso’s 19th home run of the season helped him pad his comfortable lead on the MLB home run leaderboard—and he chipped in a stolen base for good measure. Perhaps what’s most encouraging about Alonso’s recent hot streak is that he’s struck out at a sub-15% clip over his last 15 games. His 26% chase rate would also be a career-low, and if the season ended today it would be the first time he’s ever posted an above-average chase rate. He’ll likely be halfway to his 2022 home run total of 40 before the month of May is out, and—yeah, you get it, Pete Alonso is good, let’s move on.
Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 2-3, 2B, HR, 3 R, RBI, BB.
Ozuna’s April wRC+ was 10. No, I’m not missing a numeral there—it was 10. One-zero. Between that and the complete lack of any other redeeming qualities, Ozuna was very much on the bubble to be released by Atlanta. But over the past two weeks, Ozuna has arguably been one of the best hitters in a very stacked lineup, batting .315 with five home runs. He’s making better swing decisions than he did last season, and he doesn’t seem to have lost a step in terms of his quality of contact (47% Hard Hit). It’s probably 50/50 that he musters a batting average above .260, but in all likelihood, he’ll surpass 30 homers this year if he stays healthy.
Jorge Soler (MIA): 3-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Soler’s profile is nearly identical to Ozuna’s to this point in the season, as they’re posting very similar Hard Hit rates, whiff rates, chase rates, and flyball rates. Soler’s launch angle distributions have been a lot more ideal though, which has been helping him post an absurd 18% barrel rate to this point. Pitchers have decided to feed him more fastballs this year than they have since his 48-homer campaign in 2019, and Soler is doing everything in his power to let them know that they should definitely stop doing that. Like seriously. He’s telling you guys. HE’S SPEAKING THROUGH THE HOME RUNS. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN.
Trent Grisham (SD): 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, BB, SB.
For a long time, Trent Grisham’s problem was that he was too passive at the plate. This year, he decided to be a bit more aggressive, swinging at more first pitches and attacking MORE pitches in the zone. While it’s a commendable tweak, the problem with swinging more is that it’s only actually helpful if you make contact (can you believe you get to read insights like these for free?). Unfortunately, the aggression has been balanced out by a lot more whiffs this season for Grisham, and though performances like this are nice, it’s hard to imagine him sticking around much longer if he can’t keep his average above the Mendoza Line.
Wander Franco (TB): 1-2, 3B, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB.
Franco’s career arc is a nice reminder that top prospects who debut at 20 aren’t finished products, despite what every caller on late-night sports radio will have you believe. Franco’s speed element has taken a huge step forward this year, as he’s now up to 17 steals, more than doubling his previous career-high. Pair that with truly elite contact ability (13% strikeout rate this year) and above-average pop, and the only thing really holding Franco back from superstar status is his slightly inflated groundball rates.
Casey Schmitt (SF): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB.
Casey Schmitt? More like Casey Hit, amirite? Boo all you want, I can’t hear you on this side of the screen. Schmitt has looked really impressive at the plate so far in his young career, pairing a solid line drive rate with good contact ability and an impressive knack for going up the middle. I’ll take the under on his current .339 average, and he has somehow avoided walking even once in 62 plate appearances, but they don’t call him Casey SchmiBB, now do they? His extreme aggression will probably start to be used against him soon enough, but in the meantime: Weeeeee!
Randal Grichuk (COL): 3-5, 2B, 2 R.
Randal Grichuk is hitting .342. No, this is not a prank. Look, Coors is a helluva drug, and Grichuk goes on a month-long tear once a year, so you mix’em both together and the edges of reality itself start to blur. Grichuk is swinging way less than he typically has—but that has also translated into a lot fewer swings at pitches in the zone. Now, maybe that’s because he’s become better about hunting for his pitch? It might explain the bonkers 33% line drive rate he’s currently running, and the sub-20% strikeout rate. No, no—Jon, don’t try to introduce reason into this. Grichuk and Coors just creates a temporal portal where both logic and reason cease to exist. That’s all there is to it.
Starling Marte (NYM): 2-5, 2 RBI, SB.
I watch a lot of Mets games (you can send your condolence cards to the Pitcher List P.O. Box), and it’s been pretty apparent that Marte has been playing through some kind of injury for a while now. He dealt with a neck injury a while back, his sprint speed has plummeted, and he just looks extremely sluggish in the field and on the basepaths. But! Some players do manage to play their way through an injury and get to the other side, and if anybody can do it it’s Marte, who played with a broken hand and detached groin last year. Swear to god, his groin was fully detached. Enjoy the mental image. Anyway, he’s shown some signs of life lately, hitting .280 with five steals in his last 15 games. If you’re a believer, now is probably the time to buy low.
Francisco Álvarez (NYM): 2-5, 2B, R.
I shared a few of Alvarez’s rolling graphs a few days ago, and they’re worth taking a peek at, because the guy really is making huge adjustments at the plate right now:
“The Mets should demote Francisco Álvarez when Omar Narváez is healthy.” pic.twitter.com/LrvI39uLSE
— Jonathan Metzelaar (@JonMetzelaar) May 22, 2023
I would not be that shocked if Alvarez becomes a top-5 catcher next season.
Joey Meneses (WSH): 2-5, R, RBI.
What is Meneses’ nemesis? The flyball genesis. Meneses is doing two pretty awesome things this season: he’s crushing the ball (48% HH) and he’s barely striking out (20% K-rate). The problem is, to this point, he’s hit a paltry 12% of his batted balls in the air. I’m fairly confident he can make some strides there, and when he does, I think he could be an offensive force. But until that time, just enjoy the base hits and RBIs.
Seiya Suzuki (CHC): 2-3, BB.
Over his last 15 games, Suzuki is slashing .346/.453/.731 with five home runs. With his advanced plate approach, solid contact ability, and big-time power, this breakout was only a matter of time. If for some reason he’s being shopped, I’d be pouncing.